You’re in the field preparing 400 pounds of smoked beef brisket in a traditional Texas style, someone in your group says at the last minute “oh, I am a vegan”. Your hands go up in the air. Good thing there are margaritas on hand.
Our Chef has never designed a vegan plate. Sure he has presented vegetable side dishes, but none that would amount to a main dish. His chef friends don’t have that experience either. But you get a few margaritas going and something is bound to happen…
We have a smoker…
What about smoking some veggies?
OK? At 2 AM?
Ok, but dont wake up Dave…
Our Chef as noted is all about twisting the traditional, whether it is a dish combination or a specific recipe. Why not the cooking style? Here is a recipe, using some hearty vegetables, couscous and Mediterranean flavors that to the non-vegans looked pretty tasty. The dish went over well and the leftovers were better the next day.
Recipe Hint – If you don’t have a smoker, prep the veggies that same way but grill them over indirect heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. You may get more char on the veggies, but as our Thief’s father notoriously says, “it just adds flavor”.
Yields approximately 4-5 oval plates or tasty leftovers for all sorts of dishes.
- Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- White Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 heads of fresh radicchio (washed, cut in half and cored)
- 2 medium yellow bell peppers (washed, halved, seeds and veins removed)
- 2 medium orange bell peppers (washed, halved, seeds and veins removed)
- 2 medium red onion (cleaned, washed, halved)
- 2 large cucumbers (washed, halved)
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves (cleaned, minced)
- Handful washed cherry (red or yellow) tomatoes
- 2 to 4 tbsp fresh basil (washed, sliced)
- 2 to 3 stalks diced scallions (green onions)
- Boston Bib lettuce (washed, dried, each plate will need three sturdy broad leaves)
- 2 cups prepared roasted garlic couscous (use store bought or see recipe below)
- 2 to 3 tbsp Kalamata Olive Humus
Equipment: 3 to 4 quart covered sauce pan, large roasting pan (throw-away aluminum pan would be an easy cleanup option), cutting board – large, sharp kitchen knife
- With clean hands, clean and halve/core the radicchio
- Clean, clear and half the peppers
- Clean and quartered the onions
- Clean and half the cucumbers lengthwise
- Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan
- Drizzle the vegetables with Spanish EVOO and white balsamic Vinegar, toss the vegetables to coat
- Place the roasting pan into your smoking unit set at °225 F, smoke for 1.5 hours or until the radicchio is soft
- Remove the pan to your prep table and let the vegetables cool to touch (but still warm), to the veggies add 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves and a drizzle of Spanish EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar toss to coat
Aside – Why a Spanish extra virgin olive oil? The cold press of Picual, Arbequina and Ojiblanca olives provides a robust, peppery finish taste as a drizzle. Against the soft tones of the cucumbers, but equally against the bitter tone of the radicchio, the Spanish extra virgin olive oil we used stood out. It didn’t get lost and it complimented the sweet white balsamic vinegar. Look around at your local specialty grocers or check out local store focused on olive oil, see what you can find. A Mediterranean olive oil will tend to be fruitier, sweeter in its undertones and may get lost in this dish.
Couscous Direction (house directions below, or follow the directions on your purchased product)
- Add 4 cups of water to a 4 quart sauce pan, then add
Aside – If you’re just simply making a vegetable dish (not specifically for a vegan) substitute low sodium chicken broth for the water. Such will add to the flavor undertones and provide the couscous with a great start to flavor town.
- 3 tbsp of Spanish EVOO
- 2 to 3 tbsp granulated garlic powder
- 2 to 3 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- Bring the water to boil over medium high heat
- Stir in 2 cups dried Israeli Couscous pearls, stir, reduce heat to simmer
- Add 1 tbsp of fresh sliced basil and diced scallions (if desired)
- Simmer on low till liquid is absorbed (approximately 15 to 20 minutes)
- Remove from heat and keep warm
- On an oval plate, or other service plate, place three leaves of Boston Bid lettuce down as a platform for the couscous and veggies
- Place 1 to 1.5 cups of the roasted garlic couscous on the center of the three lettuce leaves where they meet
- Julienne slice the peppers, onion, cucumbers, and quarter the radicchio
- Place the veggies(cucumbers, peppers, onion) around the couscous in a random fashion to your liking, till it looks like a tossed salad, leaving a bare spot in front of the couscous
- Place around the veggies the radicchio quarters to add texture and color
- Place the cherry tomatoes around the plate
- Sprinkle the plate with sliced basil, and drizzle as needed with the Spanish EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar to taste
- Lastly add 2 to 3 tbsp of Kalamata Olive Humus to the plate in front of the couscous
Serve with crostini or bruschetta.
Apoláfste kai apoláfste